Category Archives: GLBT fiction

“Illuminations on Market Street: (a story about sex and estrangement, AIDS and loss, and other preoccupations in San Francisco)” by Benjamin Heir Shepard— San Francisco, the Early 1990s

Shepard, Benjamin Heim. “Illuminations on Market Street: (a story about sex and estrangement, AIDS and loss, and other preoccupations in San Francisco)”,   ibidem Press 2019.

San Francisco, the Early 1990s

Amos Lassen

Cab is having a losing streak. He has been dumped again. Set in San Francisco in the late 1990s, we meet Cab who moved to Haight-Ashbury right after college. It is the middle of a recession and before the dot-com boom a time when AIDS is an immediate and untreatable reality. He works in a housing program for people with HIV/AIDS at a time when the entire city is reeling and his clients are dying. Cab listens to their every word and begins drafting a narrative of every person with whom he’s slept including those who dropped him, those he adored, and those he let go without even thinking. He wants to reassess what he has left behind from the South of his childhood that was made up of dyslexia and infatuations, football and joy, divorce and sex panics. In between girlfriends, acting up, attempts at romance, and trying to find his place in the greater San Francisco narrative, Cab realizes that he is looking for something as he traces the interconnecting stories of the people he’s meeting, sleeping, and drinking with just as everyone tries to find a space in the city. As treatments emerge and the economy changes, a new story takes shape in Cab’s life and the city.

The novel looks at the lines between fiction and non-fiction, activism, loss, AIDS and the impacts of HIV on sex and culture. This is a story about living and fighting in the face of insurmountable challenges and it is  “deeply moving, vivid, funny, tender, sexy, rough-around-the-edges memory novel of the early-nineties San Francisco when AIDS was claiming lives but also when sexual, cultural, and political walls were falling and everything seemed possible.” Here is a rare account of that time and place from a straight man who opened his mind and heart to everyone around him―men and women, cis and trans, gay and straight, sick and healthy―and came away changed. Shepard shares that transformation with us here, in a novel filled with love, lust, friendship, romance, books, ideas, dancing, drugs, sex, death, and lots of music. It is a fantastic and powerful read.

“I’m Open to Anything” by William E. Jones— “Literary Porn And That’s a Good Thing

Jones, William E. “I’m Open to Anything”, We Heard You Like Books, 2019.

Literary Porn And That’s A Good Thing

Amos Lassen

When I first began reviewing about thirteen years ago, I was sent a good many copies of gay porn and I noticed that several writers tried to emulate classic literature with porn themes and this is so much different that out and out porn. It was as if a whole new genre came into being which I chose to refer to as literary porn, For the last few years, there were not many titles that I could refer to as literature that was also sexually and sensuously arousing. But then there was William E. Jones’ “I’m Open to Anything” and it is one of the most amazing books that I have read so far this year. It’s a little book with quite an explicit cover that is a perverse coming-of-age story that holds nothing back as it looks at Southern California in the late 1980s, a time before gentrification and when living Bohemian style was in vogue. Our narrator has come to California from the Midwest and does not have too much going for him.  He has a job in a video store (remember those?) in Los Angeles and he watches a lot of movies and he meets a lot of men who bring him into gay life by teaching him the sexual pleasures men can have together. One of the ways of pleasure that the learns is that of fisting.

As he meets more and more men, he realizes that many of them are immigrants who share the stories of their lives and their bodies with him. The story moves back and forth between sexual escapades and kink to stories of life and lust and how it was to come out before it was so easy to do so. William E. Jones is a master storyteller who will both arouse your libido and provoke your mind. There are books that we rush to turn pages to find out what happens next but this is a book that has you lingering on the page because turning it moves you closer to the end and you are enjoying the read so much that you want to drag it out.

There is so much to take in here that I found myself rereading it immediately finish it the first time. Not only do I recommend it, I urge you to get a copy and let me know how this little book affects you. I have deliberately been vague about the plot because In want you to enjoy it as much as  did.

“Out of Salem” by Hal Schreve— “A Teen Zombie Werewolf Witchy Faerie Fantasy Murder Mystery”

Schrieve, Hal. “Out of Salem”, Seven Stories Press, 2019

“A Teen Zombie Werewolf Witchy Faerie Fantasy Murder Mystery”

Amos Lassen

One of the great perks about being a reviewer s getting something like “Out of Salem” to read and review. Thank you Hal Schrieve for being a member of a new generation of queer writers. Schrieve sets his story in Salem, Oregon and he gives us genderqueer fourteen-year-old Z Chilworth who now has has to adjust quickly to their new “life” as a zombie after waking from death from a car crash that killed their parents and sisters. Z was always a talented witch but now she can barely perform magic and her mind and body are in the midst of decaying. She has been rejected by her remaining family members and old friends (how do you explain a zombie?) so she moves in with their mother’s friend, Mrs. Dunnigan, and becomes friendly with Aysel, a loud would-be-goth classmate who is a loner like Z. Both girls have problems—Z struggles to find a way to fix the broken magical seal holding their body together and Aysel is afraid that her classmates will discover her status as an unregistered werewolf. Then a local psychiatrist is murdered by what seems to be werewolves and the town of Salem, Oregon, becomes even more hostile to “monsters,” and Z and Aysel now have to try to survive living in a place that wants them gone.

It could happen at any time that Z could literally fall apart if they does not have the intervention of illegal necromancy to hold them together. Their whole family died in a car crash that should have killed them too. In their anti-monster small town of Salem, Oregon, Z’s only friends are caretaker, Mrs. Dunnigan, an aging, brown-skinned lesbian whose health is failing, and Aysel Tahir, a fat, Turkish-American lesbian who faces great and  life-threatening danger if anyone discovers she’s an unregistered werewolf. When a murder and accusations of werewolf terrorism cause Salem to be in the news,  Z and Aysel stand together to survive. It is 1997 and the country is facing great problems— censorship, government surveillance, homelessness, and real-world word-wide oppression.

The story is related through alternating points pf view from Z and Aysel ultimately bringing their individual conflicts together. While classmates bully Aysel for her fatness, she owns her size and that gives her power. Writer Schrieve has done an amazing job introducing diversity into his debut novel by having unique and very different character and including queer and trans characters and highlighting how economic and racial privilege make the concerns of middle-aged, rich, white trans women different from those of a young, trans woman of color without access to medical care.  I suppose that we have a whole new genre here as well and that is urban fantasy. We see old school world-building sensibilities as a perfect dysphoria metaphor that is both fresh and classic at the same time. The story both looks to the past and to the future. Of course Schrieve wrote this a metaphor thus giving it even more meaning. Aside from being a fascinating story, it is also educational in its own subliminal way.

Everyone has some kind of secret, it seems and the novel balances young passion against the world that was. As the society of Salem demanded that those who were different either conform or die, Society is insisting that the protagonists must be like them or die and most of the characters can only think of running, Schrieve suggests that there’s another option and that is in building a community can build safety and refusing to back down fosters protection.  

This is a queer friendship story and we really see the powers of friends. In the story, most people have some kind of magic. Werewolves, zombies, and shapeshifters face discrimination because of what they are and because of their magic. Z and Aysel are two fourteen-year-olds who are trying to survive in a hostile world and there is no  safe harbor free of oppression.

Both Z and Aysel are marginalized in real-life ways. Z is genderqueer, and Aysel’s is a Muslim lesbian werewolf. The story’s focus on the dystopic oppression of fantasy monsters makes for a great read. Quite simply, this is a zombie, werewolf, and “monster” story that looks at topics such as xenophobia, Islamophobia, transphobia, homophobia, immigration, classism, and racism. It is quite an accomplishment.

“Men Touching” by Henry Alley— The Powers of Intimacy

Alley, Henry. “Men Touching”, Chelsea Station, 2019.

The Powers of Intimacy

Amos Lassen

There is something wonderful about intimacy in that it fills our needs to feel wanted and loved even if just for a moment. What we forget is the power of intimacy and it often causes us to act in irrational ways. While love and intimacy can be one and the same, it is not always or even usually so.

Henry Ally brings us a look at two men who bond too early into a marriage. Set in 1986, we meet Robb, a Vietnam veteran who lives in Seattle and is heavily involved in drugs. As he tries to wean himself, he finds a world of nightmares especially when he remembers that he was involved in a hit-and-run accident in Saigon. His partner, Bart, tries to help but he is also dealing with coming out to his family, just as a friend is dying of AIDS. As the two stories come together, Bart and Robb find reconciliation both between and within themselves. I feel like I need to say something about bringing AIDS into the novel. We live in a different world today with the AIDS epidemic behind us. However, we cannot let it stay there; it is important that we never forget how AIDS changed all of us and our community.

Robb is now 40 and a professor of Biology with a secret much more personal than his sexuality. He is somewhat out and has a partner who is now coming out. (The guys are in their 40s and remember this was the 80s). No Robb’s problem deals with being in Vietnam and at war and this is what causes he nightmares and the inability to sleep. He became addicted to Ativan and he lost his sense of existing. As we read, we are not sure what his secret is but think that it is probably a war crime that he has kept hidden. The real story was that he had been a passenger in a jeep in Saigon and the jeep had a hit-and-run collision with a female bicyclist. It’s not clear whether the woman was injured or which vehicle was at fault, but Robb feels guilt-stricken for not reporting the driver and  leaving the scene.  As if that guilt was not enough, the jeep driver let go inappropriately and with temper and this led to that ends when Robb gets on about the accident. Now years later, Robb sees flaming bicycle wheels and sinks into addiction, paranoia, suicide plans, and ultimately rehab. He does not suffer alone and his loved ones who are dealing with their own problems are drawn in. Robb’s breakdown draws in loved ones dealing with their own issues.

This is a character driven novel and the characters are finely drawn and very real and there is humor and grief present and the balance is amazing. It seems to me that the basic theme here is that we are responsible for our lives and that is a responsibility that must be claimed. Don’t worry; this is a gay novel so we also have a bit of powerfully described sexual thoughts in beautiful Proustian prose. (But then I might say that because I so love Proust).

Robb unfortunately is the kind of guy you can  expect a good time with. He is a sad and self-absorbed man. He’s a morose, self-absorbed, ruminative man who is depressed.  Yet, in our own way, we hope for his recovery even though we are not sure if we like him. Yet, I loved this book and that is because of the way that Henry Alley dealt with her character’s emotions. I have always found that becoming involved in the emotions of a literary character takes me away from dealing with my own which I have noticed have become heavier with age.

“State of the Nation” by David Jackson Ambrose— Three Young Friends

Ambrose, David Jackson. “State of the Nation”, The TMG Firm, 2018.

Three Young Friends

Amos Lassen

David Jackson Ambrose’s “State of the Nation” is an African American neo-horror story that follows the daily experiences of three young friends as they live in a society that does not see them. When they are seen, they seem to be  degenerate bodies to be done away with. African Americans have different experiences with horror than their Caucasian counterparts. Horror is an everyday presence for people of color  and instead of being the fear of the unknown, it is a fear of the known. In order for African Americans to function in a modern, post-racist society, they must find ways to escape this fear and function with the knowledge that their lives have been in jeopardy for over hundreds of years.

The novel is set against the Atlanta Child Murders of the late ‘70s, early ‘80s and it acts as a micro, macro, and psychic aggressor that both inhibits and prescribes behavior. The murders hover over the lives of three friends coming of age during a moment in American history that is very much like the present as police violence perpetuated against black youth continues to stay in the news. 

The book highlights the fact that missing black bodies were not strange. It was the media attention of those particular bodies that was strange, as black bodies were being defaced, defiled, and extinguished all over the country during that time. The Atlanta Child Murders were a continuation of neo-lynching and a replication of an age-old American tradition; reminding black youth that they are expendable. 

Writer Ambrose  links elements of the Tuskegee Experiment of the 1940’s to the ever-present vulnerability of the black body. The story is at the door of the 1980’s, to hint at the beginning of the AIDS crisis, which began after of the Atlanta Child Murders. When AIDS first was reported in the press and many people from black communities were certain that it was a created disease designed to eliminate certain groups. This story considers the question that if HIV had been a creation of science, or even if it has not, if it is a ‘virus’ that is get rid of undesirable segments of the population, and that if it will be allowed to continue, it will destroy lives over and over again.
The societal milieu where these youngsters live is a microcosm within a larger societal construct. They exist in a vacuum where there is very little adult interaction, as hard-working parents in an effort to provide a stable home for their families are not around. The parents exist in the shadows vague forms with indistinct dialogue.  

We see the influence of pop culture prior to social media. Pop culture is not a world that shuts these characters out because they are different, but rather glamorizes difference. It “is attainable to them because it gives them an example of what they can attempt to emulate in order to obscure the things that make them different.” The imagery of classic movies and fashion magazines act as substitute parents, soothing when they are upset, telling them stories when they are bored, entertaining them when they are lonely, teaching them how to speak properly, and demonstrating how to give the witty one-liner. This is a very special first novel.

“Some Hell” by Patrick Nathan— After Suicide

Nathan, Patrick. “Some Hell”,  Graywolf Press, 2016.

After Suicide

Amos Lassen

Coming-of-age is never really easy and when combined with a parent’s suicide it is all the more difficult. Colin’s family is dissolving in the aftermath of his father’s suicide. His mother, Diane, retreats into therapy and cynicism but Colin holds on to every shred of normal life. He is filled with guilt and searches for someone to confide in: first his estranged grandfather and then a predatory science teacher. He is shunned by his siblings and rejected by his homophobic best friend so he immerses himself in the notebooks his father left behind. Full of strange facts, lists, and historical anecdotes that neither he nor his mother can understand, the notebooks make it difficult to tell what’s real and what’s imagined. In “Some Hell” we see how unspeakable tragedy shapes a life, and how imagination can save us from ourselves.

This is a heartbreaking look into the world of forbidden desire, secret guilt and inner conflicts. At first, it seems to be a tale of a young teenage boy’s struggle with his sexuality and the very real possibility that he caused his father’s suicide. Beyond that surface, however, we see the disappointment, shame, joy and growth that we all experience.

Author Patrick Nathan explores what it means to be human and to change and grow into another person while dealing with the knowledge that the person you were before has died. Colin’s angst over the conflict between his sexual desires and his hope to be accepted and loved is a universal story yet it is also unique to Colin who is convinced that he caused his father’s suicide. Alongside Colin’s growth, his mother, Diane struggles with her own guilt over raising three children alone while hoping to keep her own unique identity as a woman, apart from her children and deceased husband.

The characters hold their own through the book’s many surprises. The writing is compelling, the characters are totally and heartbreakingly believable, and they are very much like the circumstances that have challenged us through time.

“Coming-of-age novel,” the label generally being applied to the book in publicity materials and press reports, unfortunately will constrain readers’ expectations. Many of Colin’s challenges are far from predictable, and his ways of dealing with those challenges even less so. He is a boy with a rich interior life, and the novel is driven by his growing awareness of the worlds around and within him. But we do not watch the world just from Colin’s point of view; his mother, Diane, also has an active interior life that she shares. When we are inside Colin’s head, we find room to understand, particularly when he does not, the difference between his posturing and his yearnings. His fantasies give him life even as he recognizes that he is using them for denial.

Colin watches himself, sometimes with great skepticism, and learns more than he wants to know. Probably his greatest lesson is the same one that each of us must learn from personal experience: that we creates our own hell. Like most of us, Colin really tries to believe the platitudes about self-knowledge being a tool of growth and a step toward actualization. But the more intimately Colin comes to know himself, the more excruciating the torment he can customize for himself. Writer Nathan pushes Colin to the edges of magical realism.

There is no sentimentality in the author’s gorgeous prose. This could have been quite a depressing book; there is no humor here. We see a person growing into the eroticized experience of punishment, fear, humiliation, and even pain and while painful to read at times, we learn from it.

“Catch Me When I’m Falling” by Cheryl Head— Murder by Immolation

Head, Cheryl. “Catch Me When I’m Falling”, (A Charlie Mack Motown Mystery), Bywater Books, 2019.

Murder by Immolation

Amos Lassen

I can’t think of anyone who does not enjoy a good mystery and Cheryl Head knows how to serve them up. I have a bit of problem with mysteries however—I have to watch myself carefully so I do not give anything away and that limits how much I can tell about a book. I am letting you know in advance that I will be sketch with Cheryl Head’s “Catch Me When I Am Falling”.

We learn that homeless people in Detroit’s Cass Corridor are being killed by immolation.  Normally (I hate this word but I can’t fit another to fit) crimes of this nature do not come to Charlie Mack and her team of investigators, but we learn that one of the burned bodies is her mother’s friend.

This is also a special case because there is so much wrong about it. While it seems to be the work of a serial killer, the police refuse to admit that there is a serial killer is on the loose. Then there is the issue that drug trafficking and the deaths are side by side and there is a rogue cop  involved. The timing for all of this is not good for Charlie since she and her partner Mandy are finally moving in together.  Charlie has to transform herself into a street person to mix with the gangs that populate Cass Corridor. There are also good people, poor people, the homeless all existing side by side with the gangs. Charlie is determined to find evidence the police can’t ignore.

So that is as much as I can tell you about the plot. I can tell you that Cheryl Head is a proud daughter of Detroit and you cannot help but sense that. I also love that she dedicated this book to Aretha Franklin, a fellow Detroit daughter. But what I love the most is turning the pages as quickly as possible to find out what is happening next and whether my detective skills are any good (they are not).

On the sell sheet that came with the review copy, I found myself being quoted about Cheryl Head. It says, “I do not remember ever having written a review that I entitled simply, “Wow!” Now I have to say “Wow! Wow!). Head’s writing is special and has a style that keeps you reading and characters that are too real and too big for the printed page.

“A Rainbow Thread: Queer Jewish Texts from the First Century to 1969” by Noam Sienna— An Infinite Rainbow

Sienna, Noam. “A Rainbow Thread: Queer Jewish Texts from the First Century to 1969”, Print-O-Craft, 2019.

An Infinite Rainbow

Amos Lassen

I first heard of “A Rainbow Thread” via a friend who told me he had just ordered a copy and while my friend gave me no details aside from this book Jewish and gay, I went ahead and wrote to the publisher to get a review copy. When the book arrived I was first astounded by the 425 page length and then by the tremendous amount of research that it must have taken to compile such a book. Writer Noam Sienna tells us that the book maintains a balancing act between “LGBTQ Jewish history as an infinite rainbow, with no beginning or end, and with no clear boundaries between its different facets” (great analogy and the fact that there is “a thread: a continuity that links our lives, our joys, and our struggles today to an ancestral heritage in the past and to our inheritors in the future.” Sienna does not see history as a march toward a universal goal. Rather he sees it as processes that are made up of  connections, interruptions, and innovations. While we cannot push who we are on those who came before us but we also cannot ignore their history that has become some of our behaviors and shared practices; traditions  that take stories to other places and times, and that are often relevant in our lives today.

I can imagine Sienna going through the history of the Jews looking for examples to back his thesis and to find so much (that many of us never thought about— my adult life has been consumed by my wanting to find a way to preserve the LGBT Jewish literary canon so that the wealth of information it holds can be shared by everyone. Yet with all the work that I have done in the past, I did not come across many of the selections in this anthology.

Sienna explains how to encounter primary historical documents as a way of imagining new futures. He uses classical midrashim as two texts and lets us reread them through queer eyes thus expanding our ideas on what Jewishness is today. We see that Jewish sexuality and gender in practice was not as restricted by boundaries of gender, sex, nationality, or religion as we might have thought. Sienna is not pushing any kind of gay agenda but rather pointing out that we must rethink Judaism. In doing so, we question assumptions about how Jews have understood sexuality and gender throughout our long history as a people during which Jewish identity is often imagined as existing in spite of, or in opposition to,—the world of Jewish tradition. We are encouraged to read and reread, reimagine and revise what today’s Judaism can mean. process of constantly rereading, reimagining, and revising our understanding of what Judaism has meant, and what it can mean for us today.

What is contained in the book spans two millennia, five continents and translations from fifteen different languages. “A Rainbow Thread” is, in effect, queer Jewish history that includes poetry, drama, commentary, law and memoir. Like so many others, I have doubted that there is a place for me in Judaism and I thought I was forging a new path when I remain determined to be an active practicing Jew. I have since learned differently and now have a way to prove it— with this book. I am overwhelmed by the amount of information in “A Rainbow Thread” and I find myself lingering over each text included here and wondering why I had never read it before. We are done sitting on Judaism’s margins and we can now pitch our tents where we want. It may not be easy to do so but remember that it was once impossible to do so. I am in awe of what I see here and can’t wait to use it as a teaching tool.

“LGBTQ Fiction and Poetry from Appalachia” edited by Jeff Mann and Julia Watts— A Nice Surprise

Mann, Jeff and Julia Watts, editors. “LGBTQ Fiction and Poetry from Appalachia”, West Virginia University Press, 2019.

A Nice Surprise

Amos Lassen

Those of us who live in urban centers really are not aware of the LGBTQ population in non-urban areas and here specifically, I mean Appalachia. Jeff Mann and Julia Watts have done a wonderful job collecting and editing this collection, the first of its kind of fiction and poetry from lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer authors from Appalachia. From what I understand, literature from Appalachia Like much Appalachian literature, is often filled with an attachment to family and the mountain landscape while balancing queer and Appalachian, a complicated undertaking and filled with conflict. The pieces we read here face these problems head on and deal with the intersections of place, family, sexuality, gender, and religion with which LGBTQ Appalachians often struggle.

Included are works by established writers whose names may surprise you— Dorothy Allison, Silas House, Ann Pancake, Fenton Johnson, and Nickole Brown and emerging writers like Savannah Sipple, Rahul Mehta, Mesha Maren, and Jonathan Corcoran. Some of what we have here is previously published while the rest is original and appearing in print for the first time. This collection is a celebration of a literary canon made up of writers who give voice to what it means to be Appalachian and LGBTQ.

The book also contains a wonderful selected bibliography of same-sex desire in Appalachian literature and this alone makes the book worthwhile but there is so much more. We have the wonderful diversity of multigenerational voices, styles, and attitudes along with the theme of loyalty to place alongside of queer identity as represented in poetry and fiction. Here is the queer ecology of Appalachia and the voices that exist in relation to the landscape and the cultural imagination of the place. We see the paradox of both belonging (being from and of a place) and nearly total alienation.

Here is the Table of Contents:

Contents

Introduction   

Editor’s Notes

Dorothy Allison          

            Roberts Gas & Dairy   

            Careful

            Butter 

            Domestic Life 

Lisa Alther      

            Swan Song     

Maggie Anderson       

            Anything You Want, You Got It         

            Biography       

            Cleaning the Guns     

            In Real Life     

            My Father and Ezra Pound     

Nickole Brown

            My Book, in Birds      

            To My Grandmother’s Ghost,

            An Invitation for My Grandmother   

            Ten Questions You’re Afraid to Ask, Answered        

Jonathan Corcoran     

            The Rope Swing         

doris diosa davenport           

            verb my noun: a poem cycle 

            After the Villagers Go Home: An Allegory     

            Halloween 2011         

            Halloween 2017         

            for Cheryl D my first lover, 41 years later     

            Three days after the 2017 Solar Eclipse        

            Sept. 1  Invocation     

            a conversation with an old friend     

            Upon realizing

            “The Black Atlantic”   

Victor Depta   

            The Desmodontidae  

Silas House    

            How To Be Beautiful  

Fenton Johnson          

            Bad Habits     

Charles Lloyd  

            Wonders        

Jeff Mann       

            Not for Long   

            Training the Enemy    

            Yellow-eye Beans      

            The Gay Redneck Devours Draper Mercantile          

            Three Crosses

            Homecoming 

Mesha Maren

            Among

Kelly McQuain

            Scrape the Velvet from Your Antlers 

            Brave  

            Vampirella     

            Monkey Orchid          

            Alien Boy        

            Mercy 

            Ritual 

Rahul Mehta  

            A Better Life               

Ann Pancake  

            Ricochet         

Carter Sickels 

            Saving

Savannah Sipple        

            WWJD / about love    

            WWJD / about letting go       

            Jesus and I Went to the Wal-Mart    

            Catfisting       

            Pork Belly       

            A List of Times I Thought I Was Gay  

            Jesus Signs Me Up For a Dating App  

Anita Skeen    

            Double Valentine       

            How Bodies Fit           

            Need  

            Something You Should Know

            The Clover Tree         

            The Quilt: 25 April 1993         

            While You Sleep         

Aaron Smith   

            Blanket           

            There’s still one story

            Twice 

Julia Watts     

            Handling Dynamite    

“A People’s History of Heaven” by Mathangi Subranabian— A Slum Known as Heaven

Subramanian, Mathangi. “A People’s History of Heaven”, Algonquin, 2019.

A Slum Known as Heaven

Amos Lassen

Living in the Bangalore slum are a group of young women that includes a politically driven graffiti artist, a transgender Christian convert, a blind girl who loves to dance and a queer daughter of a hijabi union leader. As we read about them and to get to know them , we fall in love with them.

The slum is known as Heaven and it has been around some thirty years. It sits hidden between brand-new high-rise apartment buildings and technology centers contemporary Bangalore, one of India’s fastest-growing cities. Those who call Heaven home hand-to-mouth and constantly strugge against the city government that wants to bulldoze their homes and build more glass high-rises. These families, men and women, young and old, gladly support one another, sharing whatever they can.

The girls we meet are five best friends. They go to school together and are a diverse group who love and accept one another unconditionally, pulling each other through crises and providing emotional, physical, and financial support. Together they fight a war on the bulldozers that want to bury their homes, and, ultimately, on the city that does not care what happens to them.
 
This is a story about geography, history, and strength, about love and friendship, about fighting for the people and places we love–even if no one else knows they exist.  The five young women have power despite the way they live. They exemplify what an accepting community is. Writer Mathangi Subramanian “upends expectations and fiercely illuminates her characters’ strength, intelligence, and passionate empathy.” A People’s History of Heaven should be a case study in how to write political fiction. Each page delighted and amazed me.”
This is a girl power-fueled story that examines dark social issues with a light in this story about defiance in the face of being done away with and the survival tactics of an unforgettable group of girls.